Everything Old is New Again


the studios dealt out retribution to bad press from columnists. He reminds us that "The Movie Zone" isn't a present-day gossip TV show but it originated as the area within thirty miles of Hollywood proper which allowed for location shooting to be done without paying additional wages to the unions for travel. That is why this story takes place in a small California town which is being used in a film to double for West Orange, New Jersey.

Last but not least, he gives us the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists, a group of White Russian émigrés based in the United States who actually did spy and sabotage work for the Axis powers in hopes that German and Japanese victories would allow them to topple Russia's communist regime and allow the reinstatement of a Czar. Headquartered in Connecticut (of all places), the group had clusters of cells nationwide. When the leader was  arrested by the F.B.I. in 1942, splinter groups still feebly hung on by fleeing to Mexico and managing to cross the non-secure border back into the United States for further attempts at espionage and destruction. That's where Dandola's fiction makes for fascinating reading and it's somewhat eerie how history does, in fact, repeat itself in circumstances and situations. Dandola insists that the fact his story's tie-ins are so timely is purely coincidence.

"Book manuscripts are submitted as much as two years in advance," he explains, "and initial writing starts at least a year before that. I couldn't possibly have foreseen all this current hubbub about Russian meddling and border crossings. But such things did happen in the 1940's."

Dandola would know since he totally immerses himself in the period. His routine in establishing a premise for a story is to try and find some nugget of true information on which to hang the tale. According to Dandola, "The  Russian National Revolutionary group was so obscure that it was pretty much a footnote to a footnote and I had to do quite a bit of digging. I have no doubt that the group did set out with earnest intent and I found a few reports of their sabotage work. The homefront was on pins and needles worrying that the war would reach our shores. People became spooked. Any kind of suspicious activity in war plants was euphemistically blamed on ‘gremlins'— imaginary beings no one could see or capture. It seems at least some of those gremlins were Russian."

So how does a 1943 movie shooting on location come into contact with World War II saboteurs? When planning his mysteries, Dandola makes sure that the crimes follow logical and practical methods just as would happen in real life during that era. It's why his stories are so believable. What helps is his fondness for the time period. As he says, "Even though it was before I was born, I think the social mores of the 1940's were classier. I like the movies and the music and the cars and the women's fashions. Women were more feminine—and no, that doesn't mean that they lacked strength—one has nothing to do with the other."

His female characters certainly don't lack strength. His male protagonist, Tony Del Plato, has two actresses on his hands and a teenaged daughter at home. There's not a shrinking violet in the group. And then, there's those Russians...

Dead in the Shadows is 270 pages, priced at $15.95. To order,
click here.

# # #

Copyright © 2020 by John Dandola, Ltd. All rights reserved.
Mystery Novel Reveals a Little-Known Threat
to the Homefront During World War II
PRLog  (Press Release) — February 4, 2020 — Author John Dandola is known for his impeccable research whether it be writing local histories or his 1940's mystery novels. His portrait of small town America in those mystery novels is masterful to the smallest detail—specifically those related to his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, where at least a portion of each story takes place. As his stories have progressed, they have taken in both the Hollywood's Studio System and World War II along with broader historical context. These may not be five-hundred or six-hundred page epics but, as an  author, Dandola manages to insert his characters so believably into real happenings that fact and fiction become one and the same.

His recently released Dead in the Shadows reminds readers that Hollywood Studios held ultimate control over their actors right down to the final say in marriages, divorces, and the potential hazard of casting couches. But there was also protection in how